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New Survey Looks at Evolving Tech Trends in Libraries

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This week, the Public Library Association (PLA) published its 2023 Public Library Technology Survey report which looks at emerging trends around technology, patron resources, infrastructure, digital literacy, and staffing in U.S. public libraries. This data is vital to understanding how libraries serve as hubs of knowledge and innovation and evolve to meet community needs.

The report addresses questions such as: How are library professionals advancing digital equity in their communities? What types of technology devices do libraries loan to patrons, and are more or fewer libraries offering these items compared to 2020? What are the primary challenges libraries face in providing technology resources and services?

The new report includes some fascinating findings, including:

  • Almost half of libraries (46.9%) offer hotspots for checkout, an increase of 14.4% from 2020.
  • About a quarter of libraries (24.6%) have digital media production equipment and more than one-third (39.5%) have maker-production equipment.
  • 95.3% of public libraries offer some kind of digital literacy training, and almost 30% offer a digital navigator program to assist patrons.
  • Almost one in five (19.7%) libraries are involved in digital equity or inclusion coalitions at the local, state, or regional level.
  • 95% of libraries offer ebooks and/or e-audiobooks, and 57.5% offer streaming and downloadable media for patrons.
  • Federal funding is critical to supporting library technology needs: Almost half (52%) of libraries applied for the federal E-rate program.

The Public Library Technology Survey was first administered in 2020. It’s the third in a series of three national surveys exploring public library roles, services, and resources to provide data for decision-making and advocacy at the local, state, and national level. PLA invited all U.S. public library administrative entities to complete the survey in fall/winter 2023, and 1,511 libraries participated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the deep digital divides that still exist in this country, and PLA’s new survey details how libraries continue to adapt and adopt technologies and services to meet evolving community needs,” said PLA President Michael Lambert in a statement. “Virtually all technology offered in the library—ranging from scanners to assistive technology for people with disabilities to smart objects that support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning—increased from the 2020 survey. Local, state, and federal policy makers should invest in sustaining and expanding these vital library services to expand educational and economic opportunity for all.”

You can learn more about the survey results in a free webinar on July 30, 2024. To read the full 2023 report and explore other PLA data resources, please visit

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